Interview Questions Employers Shouldn’t Ask

By Irina Nagy

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All employers want to find out as much as possible about prospective employees in order to see whether they will be a good fit for the vacancy and business or not. And this is perfectly understandable! But, there are certain things that employers are prohibited from asking… Candidates are protected by several rights and there is some information that they are not necessarily required to disclose to prospective employers during the interview process.

Questions that do not relate directly to one’s ability to do the job – details about race, nationality, religion and sexual orientation – should never be asked during an interview. Ideally, candidates should be offered a chance to first demonstrate their competency before disclosing any personal information. Only then, should disclosures be made.

It’s the simple questions that are often the most harmful or even illegal. So, which are the most common questions that employers tend to ask even though they shouldn’t?

Health  and disability questions

Deciding to disclose a disability to an employer is a matter of personal choice and nobody is under any legal obligation to do so.
Since October 2010, employers cannot, except in very restricted circumstances or for very restricted purposes, ask a job applicant questions about their health before offering them employment or including them in a group of successful candidates. The 2010 Equality Act helps protect job applicants against discrimination and everybody should be given a chance to show their skills before being screened out just because of issues related to or arising from their health or disability.

Here are the exceptions where employers may still make health-related enquiries:

But, in case the disability raises a health and safety issue, it might be a good thing to disclose it after all. In this case the employer must take all reasonable steps to provide the necessary adjustments and mustn’t discriminate against any candidate because of their disability.

Salary questions

All candidates want to be compensated according to their worth. But, not all companies take the time to think about what applicants are really worth… They usually tend to measure candidates value according to their past salary. This means that if their current salary is either too low or too high, candidates risk to be disqualified without consideration to whether or not they have the necessary skills for the vacancy.

The truth is that employers don’t really need a salary history in order to evaluate and hire somebody. What they need is is to make sure the candidate has the right background and skills and an ATS or CV parsing software to streamline their recruitment process. Employers only like to ask for confidential information because, knowing it, gives them an advantage when it comes to salary negotiations.

Social media questions

Social media has become a valuable recruitment resource for employers and they are increasingly using Facebook job boards for example to advertise job openings. More and more employers are now using social media also to search for information about candidates in order to ensure that they won’t find embarrassing information that could reflect poorly on the business. But, there have been cases when employers asked for a candidate’s social media accounts passwords.  This practice is a huge invasion of privacy as well as a potential security issue. It is totally unacceptable and illegal to share or solicit a candidate’s social media accounts log in details. No candidate is obliged to disclose this kind of private information any more than they are obliged to give out any other personal information that is not relevant to the ability to do the job.

During each interview, in order to not get accused of discrimination, it’s worth remembering that there is a big difference between asking a prospective employee for the above information and asking a current employee.

These are just some of the most important issues that employers should be alert to during the recruitment process. If you are aware of any others please add them to the list.

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